Small Business Server Update Enters Beta Testing

The first significant update to the server suite since October 2003, SBS 2003 SP1 will comprise Windows Server 2003 SP1 and updates to Exchange, SharePoint and, for premium customers, Internet Security and Accelerator (ISA) 2004 and SQL Server 2000 SP4. ISA 2004 is a robust, cost-effective edge firewall solution for small businesses, partners say.

Partners say SP1's greatest benefit will be delivering a single update that can be applied once. "The biggest advantage is aggregation of patches," said Michael Cocanower, president of ITSynergy, Phoenix, who has worked with the SBS SP1 beta code.

Prior to the service pack, it took about an hour of install time to patch individual SBS servers, Cocanower said. "Once the SP1 comes out, that decreases quite a bit," he said.

Partners also say they expect the SBS SP1 rollout to be far easier than that of Windows XP SP2. "It will be somewhat different from that with Windows XP SP2," said Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, Manalapan, N.J. "Servers are a controlled environment and we know what's running, and what to watch out for," he said.

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One new feature in SBS SP1 will help partners with the client issue: The client setup feature in SBS SP1 will support Windows XP SP2, Microsoft said.

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., said partners should use the enhanced Configuration Wizard in SBS 2003 SP1, and not attempt to use the Security Configuration Wizard in Windows Server 2003 SP1. Doing so would remove some of the "glue" that integrates the server components in SBS 2003, causing server crashes and other headaches, Microsoft said.

Most partners are aware of the "do not install" rule for Windows Server 2003 SP1 on SBS, said Jason Harrison, president of Harrison Technology Consulting, Nashville, N.C. Harrison explained that individual Service Packs available for Exchange, SQL and ISA may not work well with SBS management tools.